Candy Bar

Several years ago, about 20 to be exact, shortly after I got married to my beautiful wife, Jana, I had the unfortunate job of having to put her 15 year old poodle, Candy Bar, to sleep due to blindness, deafness and other medical problems that were inoperable and painful. On the way to the vet, I tried everything I could, yelling, waving my hand in front of her face to see if I could get any response. There was none. It was a decision that my wife had made, since it was her friend for such a long time. She couldn’t stand to see her suffer anymore, but she couldn’t do it. She figured that me being a police officer, only for about 2 years, but still one, I could handle it. I did what needed to be done, then went to the car and broke down and cried like a baby.

Wondering why I had to do it, and knowing why all the same. A couple of more years passed and we decided to get another dog. We decided on a Collie knowing they have a reputation of being protective and good with children, as we were wanting one we could trust around any future children we would have. We bought a tri-color, full bred Collie, named him Rollie, and watched him become a part of our family. He was a huge dog for a Collie…over 85 pounds and when on all hind legs, could look a grown man in the eye. But he was a gentle giant, just like we expected. He became the best friend of our first daughter, Alyssa. There wasn’t anything she could do to him that he wouldn’t take. I have pictures of him being placed into a Li’l Tikes house, head sticking out the half door like “Mr. Ed” playing house with her. She could lay on him like a mattress, grab him by the ear and lead him around and even try to ride him like a horse, and he took it all in and always came back for more. They would play chase and he would herd her into the center of the yard like cattle. And he was very protective, keeping everyone out of the yard when she was there, without barking, without biting. He would simply run as hard as he could up to the person and sit at their feet, “smiling”, showing his 2 inch canines, stopping everyone who didn’t know him. We considered him our “first born”. One day, when she was in kindergarten, I came home from lunch early and didn’t see him in the yard. I went outside and found him lying between the doghouse and the fence. He had died while everyone was gone.

He was only 10. We don’t know what happened. He just died. I had to tell her and my wife when they came home from school, then had to make arrangements for Rollie. Alyssa cried everyday from then on for about 2 weeks, and refused to go into the back yard. I cried like a baby as well when I began picking up his toys, food bowl and placed them into storage. I had also removed his collar for safe keeping. About 3 months later, we decided to get a shelter dog, Collie, but a little smaller but broader, probably not full breed, named Ruff. He brought life back to Alyssa and we cried as we watched her play in the backyard again, playing chase, and hugging him. Unfortunately, we were not told he was a digger and he escaped form our back yard 3 times. The last time he chewed through 2 fences and dug a 3 ft hole under the main fence. We never saw him again. About 2 months later, we decided to get another Collie. We found one locally and let Alyssa pick out the one she wanted. She immediately fell in love with the one sitting off by himself, the biggest one, so we got him. She named him Jessie.

The first thing she did was put Rollie’s old collar on him when he got big enough. He wasn’t as big as Rollie, but looked exactly the same. He quickly became her best friend again. By this time we had another daughter and a son, and Jessie fit in perfectly. Alyssa tried to train him and he obeyed fairly well. Everything was great. We even got a Sheltie, named him Max, and he ended up having the same markings as Jessie. They looked like twins, other than the fact one was 60 pounds and one is only 25 pounds and about 2 feet shorter. Then, two days before we were to go out of state for vacation, I noticed that Jessie didn’t look right. I took him to the vet, thinking the worst, and it was even more devastating that I had thought possible. His stomach had inverted and was twisted inside, closing off both ends. We found out it is common with large framed dogs that are active. They got him stabilized and we had to make a decision. Emergency surgery or put him to sleep. After a lot of debate, we decided on emergency surgery…anything to keep a smile on my daughters face. Surgery went well, but was extremely expensive. He had to be kenneled for 7 days so while he was kenneled, we continued our vacation plans, but a day late. Alyssa called the vet every day to check on him, and he was doing great. When we came home, we had a shaved Collie waiting for her in the backyard. (One of my co-workers, a K-9 officer, picked him up for us and dropped him home before we arrived.) He seemed to have recovered fully.

Became healthy and active, and after his hair grew back in, you never would have known he had major surgery and would have died within the hour if he hadn’t been taken to the vet when he was. A little over a year later, while on vacation, we got a phone call from our neighbor who was taking care of Jessie, that he had died unexpectedly. We later found out that dogs that survive the surgery we put him through have a tendency to develop heart problems. We think he either had a heart attack or a stroke, based on what our neighbor said how he was acting right before he died. We didn’t tell our children until after we came home. I made arrangements with friends at work to have Jessie removed, keeping Rollie’s/Jessie’s old collar, which we still have. We arrived home late after our vacation, so we put off the inevitable until morning.

The dreaded morning came and we told our children. All three cried as expected, but it helped to have Max there, but we noticed that he seemed depressed as well. He was missing his friend too. He wouldn’t play, and didn’t eat much, and wandered around the backyard as if looking for Jessie. They played chase all the time. We told our children that Max missed Jessie as much as they did and they needed to go outside and play with him. That little bit of advise worked on Max and our children. But Alyssa has said she does not want another Collie…too many memories, mostly good, but the bad ones are real bad for her. She still cries at time for Rollie and he has been gone for over 8 years now. I was able to have a friend at work make a pastel drawing of Rollie form a picture we have of him standing in the yard. It is a 20×13 beautiful color portrait currently hanging in Alyssa’s room. Rollie and Jessie look so much alike, you can’t tell the difference between the two from pictures.

Our pets do become part of our families, and they always have unconditional love for you. Rollie and Jessie were as much a part of our family as our children and brought great joy to everyone of us. We still have Max, and he is getting spoiled rotten by all three children. He’s about 5 years old, and we hope we do not have to go through anything we have had to endure with Rollie and Jessie for a long, long time. I love your stories about Sprite and the joy he brought you and your family. We have had, and do have, that same joy now, but also had our fair share of sadness as well. God bless Mark, and great site.

I’ll try to find a picture of them and post another later.

Jerry from TX